Wednesday, 25. February 2015, 15:30
What we talk about when we talk about "provinces in rebellion": Shahrisabz and premodern sovereignty, 1694-1870
Abstract Most maps of pre-colonial Central Asia delineate three khanates: Bukhara, Khoqand, and Khiva. However, the early modern period was characterized by overlapping forms of sovereignty and fluid power dynamics. This paper examines the Kenagis dynasty of Shahrisabz as an independent, quasi-sovereign dynasty on par with the other "three khanates." It argues that historians have portrayed the dynasty as an unruly Bukharan vassal, rather than as monarchs ruling over a city-state, because Shahrisabz is represented almost entirely through Bukharan sources. Rare religious endowments (waqf) composed in Shahrisabz alongside critical engagement with hostile chronicle sources reveals a rather different picture. The Kenagis tribe established a dynasty in Shahrisabz that not only sustained de facto independence from Bukhara through successful military resistance for over a century, it asserted numerous forms of de jure sovereignty as well. This does not mean that the political configuration of the pre-colonial period consisted of four khanates rather than three. Rather, the paper argues for a more specific and graduated conceptualization of sovereignty, both real and symbolic.